POSTED: Friday, March 7, 2014 - 6:00pm
UPDATED: Saturday, March 8, 2014 - 2:06pm
Tyler , TX (KETK) — There are signs that we are recovering from the 2011 drought. The lake levels at Lake Tyler and Palestine are the highest they've been in years. Lake Tyler is about 96% full and Lake Palestine is overflowing. It hasn't been this high since April 2011.
"We're just finally compensating for that long drought we went through," said District 3C Fisheries Manager Richard Ott.
Lake Tyler and Lake Palestine's main purpose is to produce water for the citizens of Tyler. And it's a place to spend time with the family, fishing, boating and swimming. But since the drought, a lot of those fun activities were limited.
"There for awhile you couldn't even get a boat on Lake Tyler because the lake levels got so low the ramps didn't extend all the way to the water," said Ott.
Now, this is the first time in about three years that the lakes are pretty much back to normal. Greg Morgan, City of Tyler Director of Utilities and Public Works said the lake's elevation is at 374.88 msl. for a full elevation it's 375.5 msl. Morgan said we are about seven inches down right now. Morgan said Lake Tyler hasn't been completely full since June of 2010. But, he said after the rain we get this weekend, he is hopeful the lake levels can reach it's full capacity.
"I believe that there is a real good chance we'll see the lakes full before Memorial Day weekend," said Morgan.
We have to thank the wintry weather for helping fill our lakes back up.
"We've finally gotten enough rain to catch us up, and this is the time of the year we don't have a lot of transportational water loss. The trees aren't sucking a lot of moisture out of the ground right now, they don't have any leaves, so we got a little ahead on our rainfall to fill these lakes back up," said Ott.
A lot of vegetation also died during the drought. When the lake dropped 7 or 8 feet, the aquatic vegetation that grows in the shallow water were exposed and died. Lake Tyler did not lose a lot of fish during the drought, but not a lot of them were reproducing because their nesting areas were exposed. They usually nest in terrestrial grasses near lake basins, but the drought completely dried them out. Now, that we've had some wintry rain, those grasses were flooded and it created a viable fish habitat.
"This spring we will have really good production of our game fishes and real good ability for anglers to catch fish because they will move up to terrestrial areas to find food," said Ott.